Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Missing person found


This was the last time I saw the gentle young woman A from Guatemala who cleaned our house. When she had left that day, we did our usual exchange of “Nos vemos en dos semanas.” But then she just disappeared with no trace soon after her daughter had napped in our laundry room.

A had been with us for quite a few years, often bringing her older daughter, who sat and colored or quietly took care of herself while her mother worked. They even came with gifts to the baby shower (photo above) I had arranged for Glenda, another younger woman from Guatemala.

This total lack of communication was not at all like A, who would always call if she wanted to change the appointed time to clean our house. And we were always fine with being flexible. But two weeks, three weeks, four weeks came and went and no phone call.

I had tried to call her cell phone, only to find out that it was no longer in service. I knew something very bad had happened to A.

That was two months ago. Since then, we’ve found someone else – this time a mother-daughter team from El Salvador – to clean our house.

Then just yesterday my husband answered the phone and heard the very weak voice of A on the other end. The Spanish always sends him looking for me. But the voice was so weak, I couldn’t begin to understand what A was trying to tell me, other than something catastrophic had happened to her body and she was in a hospital in Bethesda.

I asked if her husband was there with her and sure enough he was. He told me that she had been in the hospital for 7 weeks with a severe case of lupus. Apparently she had the disease before becoming pregnant with her now year-old baby. During the pregnancy she didn’t take her medication for fear of harming the baby.

But soon after the baby’s birth, the disease returned and became progressively worse. We had noticed a definite change in her health and in her ability to do her work, but knew nothing of the fact that she had lupus.

Her husband said she will be coming home soon, but in what condition? I have so many unanswered questions about A and her future. I’ve never known if she and her husband are in the country legally. I don’t know if they have health insurance, but imagine not.

Although most people no longer die from lupus, it is an auto-immune disease that often results in chronic fatigue. So how will A ever work again to pay her way in the group house, where everyone shares responsibility for the mortgage?

As relieved as I was to hear from A yesterday, my heart goes out to her as she tries to make sense of this most recent blow life has dealt her. I will be there to help her as much as I can, but she is probably destined to struggle, often with extreme pain, for the rest of her life. That seems like a severe sentence for someone barely older than my daughter.

10 Comments:

Blogger Angela said...

Even if you cannot do much to improve her health or her condition, it will be so good for her to know that someone cares!! You are a good soul, Barbara!

12:28 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Angela -- We often take our health for granted. It's this sort of thing that makes me realize just how good my life is.

12:55 PM  
Blogger lacochran said...

It was really nice of him to call and let you know what was going on in the midst of all that horridness. I'm sure you'll find a way to cheer her up.

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Steve said...

Wow, that's terrible. I hope she's able to recover enough to go back to work. At least she was able to get health care!

4:28 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

LA -- Yes, it was a relief just to know what had happened to her.

Steve -- I can't imagine how she was able to end up in a hospital in Bethesda. I will undoubtedly learn more when I see her.

I wonder who is taking care of her children.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Lemmonex said...

This is so hard. So do you let her come back to clean and get rid of the new folks, taking their jobs? Tough call.

11:30 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Lemmonex -- I would get rid of the new people in a minute (and I think they would actually understand because they have been asking me if I've heard from her), but I don't think A's condition will ever permit her to do such strenuous work again. Her options are definitely limited.

11:34 PM  
Blogger Merle Sneed said...

Wow, what a horrible turn of events for A. I hope she is back and at it soon.

What a shame that the weakest among us have to deal with so much.

12:32 AM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

Well I'm glad you found her again, but so sorry to hear how she's suffering.

12:45 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Wow. I'm so sorry to hear about A. What a terrible situation for someone so young, for the whole family.

8:27 PM  

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